Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Called To Solitude

When I first think of solitude I get antsy. I don't like being alone AT ALL and it's really hard for me not to focus on a project or a need outside of myself. So when God started leading me to seek solitude I completely panicked. Alone? Quiet? You have got to be kidding me God.

Let me give you some background. I have been married to Brian for over 11 years. We own a landscaping business and he's very busy with that and as a bivocational pastor. We got pregnant with triplets in January 2002. Salem (our survivor) was born in October. She turns 7 today. She has Noonan Syndrome, Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy, and some mild learning issues. She is now in 1st grade and her therapies are manageable. This time last year we had speech once a week, PT once a week, tutoring twice a week and riding therapy once a week. Now she has speech once a week and riding once a week.

Raina is 4 and was diagnosed with Pervasive Development in May. She's now in a PreK Head Start program. She gets 6 hours of speech a week at school - which is the main purpose of her being in PreK at the tender age of barely 4. I still struggle with that. She's my baby and only 4. And now she's gone 7 hours a day 5 days a week. Yet she needs the intensive speech and the socialization and behavior skills she's learning.

So for 7 years my life has been a whirlwind of taking care of 2 special needs kiddos and being their mom, my husband's wife and so on and so forth. Somewhere in there Larrah came to us, then my grandmother moved in with us, the my sister and her kiddos moved in with us - and now we're back to our little family.

During this time I was also the finance coordinator and then the group coordinator for a large and flourishing MOPS group. I was very busy. And very fruitful.

So in many ways - I've been going 100 miles an hour for 7 years. It's what I've gotten used to. Now I am not so busy. To be honest I miss my girls. The girls had only been in school a week when I realized how much time I had. Then I began to feel useless and wondered what I should be doing with my time.

I searched out many things and I definitely heard God tell me NO several times. Sigh. OK God what do you want me to do? To be honest this made me feel antsy. I am a doer. I need to do. The quiet of not doing brings me anxiety. BUT that is not from God. So I obviously need to work on that.

The reality is I do a lot without needing to bring another big project or commitment in. I am a wife, a friend, a mom who wants to be involved in her girl’s school, I like to work out, I can now keep a clean house without staying up til 1 or 2 am, the laundry gets folded and put away a lot quicker than before and I am not tied to a huge after school therapy schedule. It's so much more manageable. Yet I felt like I had to fill my free time. I think that's a trick of the enemy. He can't steal my soul but he can steal my peace and he can fill my life with so much "stuff" that it takes away from my relationship with God. Even useful/beneficial stuff.

So when I reread the above list I realized I still have a lot going on even though I still have a lot of free time. But guess what's not included in that list? Time with God. Yet I was looking for things to fill my time. Who needs 6 hours alone a day I told myself. I considered getting a part time job but God closed those doors. I considered volunteering more in a variety of ministries but I felt God say no.

So what on earth do I do God? I felt His whisper in my soul - calling me to solitude. Calling me to spend time with Him so I can center myself and be with Him and get out of the stasis mode I’ve been in since Salem was born in 2002. Somewhere along the way I lose "me" and who God wants me to be.

To be honest this scares me. I don't remember what silence feels like. To repeat myself - I get antsy. I can't remember the last time life was so silent. Yet I am realizing if there is no solitude in your day how can your hear your heart cry out? How can you hear God who at times whisper?

I feel so unsettled when I am silent and still but perhaps rather than filling that silence with doing something - perhaps God is trying to use it to turn me towards Him. Well there is no perhaps to it. He is.

I am losing the desire to fill my time with shopping and spending too many hours gone from the house or working on some volunteer project or spending too much time on Facebook or watching things on TV that really aren't awful but certainly not beneficial to my time or spirit. In and of themselves none of these things are spiritually debilitating. Yet for me they have been as they've consumed me rather than me letting God consume me.

I am learning that solitude is not isolation. For me its a purposeful quietening and "de-busying" of my life. It's a specific laid out plan to pray and study the word and spend time with God and figure out where He's leading me and how He is healing my heart and emotions.

This isn't about isolation. I will still go to MOPS, travel to Lubbock to see T twice a month or so, go to lunch with a friend, volunteer at Salem's school, etc. But this is about solitude. This is about not looking for a 100 things to fill my time. This is about not being scared to embrace the pain in my life and go to God with it, deal with it, decide what to do with it and figure out what's next.

I feel called to share this experience for at least 90 days. To document and process and share. Perhaps others will feel called to this experience. I have absolutely no preconceived ideas as to how these ninety days will play out. I literally have no clue. All I know is God wants me to do it and He wants me to share it and to strive to be more authentic and transparent than I've ever been. The transparency terrifies me. But I recently heard Beth Moore say, "You can't amputate your history from your destiny." OK God - I get it.

I'll still be a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I'll still have to clean my home, do the ridiculous amount of laundry we create, work out, do business paperwork, etc. None of that will change. What hopefully will change is how I see my relationship God, learning to listen to His voice, and finding God on a deeper level.

To be honest I think God's wooing me. Strangely enough, that makes me feel special. Special enough to put aside my fears, slip off my masks and start writing.

So this is my calling for this time in my life. It's time for me to slow down, center and focus on God. I feel as if my emotional healing is contingent upon it. All the things I've done have been good things. But the bible clearly says all things are permissible and may be “good” but they are not always beneficial in our lives. (My paraphrase - 1 Corinthians 10:23).

I'm learning that sometimes we need to just "be" rather than just "do". For instance Sabbath. God created sabbath for man. But how often do we really rest even just once a week? Especially as moms I think we unconsciously subscribe to the world's standards to do do do. And doing is great. Faith without works is dead. There are many works that need to be done and many that we are specifically called to do. But often we aren't called to do these great works thus they end up taking time from family and more importantly time with our Creator.

I have a dear friend who was just diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Her diagnosis is grim. I choose not to accept that diagnosis and am praying for her complete healing. But something she said has been echoing deep inside me. She may have neglected symptoms of being unwell and didn't go to the Dr - probably because she was busy with summer, 3 young children under 6, a 1001 things to do, etc. I am sure its hard for her not to wonder - what if...

It makes me realize if I don't take care of myself spiritually, emotionally and physically - I can still mother and do a good job but perhaps less or different than what God intended.

It's a holistic journey. If even one area of my life is ignored - I am out of balance. I want to be balanced. I want peace. I want to be whole.

I just know I want to be a great daughter of God - a great wife - a great mom. But I am realizing a HUGE to do list will not bring me to those goals.

Perhaps some some of you will join me on this journey on on some level. If not - please do comment and encourage me and definitely pray for me.

***NOTE: If you know me in real life and learn some of my secrets you might be shocked. Especially because I've done a really GREAT job at hiding them - masking them. Please realize I am still the same Leah you know today. Please remember how terrifying a process this may be for me at times and be patient and loving and kind. If for some reason you are really upset or concerned or have questions - contact me and let's talk about it.


Leah September 30, 2009 at 9:17 PM  


Kathleen Summers October 1, 2009 at 4:07 PM  

This is awesome, Leah. Just this morning at Bible study, our pastor's wife talked about a time when the Lord told her to be quiet in Him for a period of time and not be involved in any ministry. And He really spoke to her and she grew a lot in Him during that period! My prayer is for the same sweet time in Him for you.

Julia Stewart October 2, 2009 at 10:46 AM  

go baby go!!!

Allison October 8, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

This is an amazing journey you are sharing with us. I will be here to cheere you on and pray for you. I wonder what I'm scared of that's holding me back - there's something for sure.
Anyway, as for your "note" at the end - if we're true friends it won't matter.
Love you girl!

joeypouch October 19, 2009 at 7:38 PM  

This is so wonderful. I look forward to reading this journey. Praying for ypur friend also.

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